The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed that about 35 children have died in the past year from measles outbreaks across Europe.
The apex health body described their deaths as an “unacceptable tragedy”, adding that the deaths are being caused by a vaccine-preventable disease.
In a statement on Tuesday, the U.N. health agency said the most recent death was a 6-year-old boy in Italy, where there have been more than 3,300 cases and two other deaths since last June. The highly contagious virus has also caused 31 deaths in Romania.
It is understood that there have also been deaths in Germany and Portugal since June 2016.
Dr Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO regional director for Europe, said: “Every death or disability caused by this vaccine-preventable disease is an unacceptable tragedy.
“We are very concerned that although a safe, effective and affordable vaccine is available, measles remains a leading cause of death among children worldwide, and unfortunately Europe is not spared.
“I urge all endemic countries to take urgent measures to stop transmission of measles within their borders, and all countries that have already achieved this to keep up their guard and sustain high immunisation coverage.”
Measles is highly contagious, but vaccinating 95% of the population should prevent it spreading.
Recent outbreaks have mostly been traced to travelers who contracted the virus overseas and then spread it to others who were not vaccinated.